رولا البلبيسي Rula Bilbeisi's Reviews > In the Country of Men

In the Country of Men by Hisham Matar
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Feb 01, 2012

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In The Country of Men

“Have no cause to fear, only the guilty live in fear.”

That was not the case with Suleiman, the nine-year-old boy. Fear was in the air surrounding him. Fear for his alcoholic mother who he thought needs his protection, fear for his father, the foolish dreamer, who disappeared on long business trips, this fear that seemed to absorb him and turned into panic attacks that transformed a happy child into an angry frustrated kid, whose anger came lashing out on people around him.

All through the story, I kept wandering what will happen to this poor child who no one takes the time to talk to and explain what is going on around him, and I justified all the mistakes he does, the betrayals and the moral deterioration, as an expected reaction from a troubled childhood in a troubled cruel country. He didn’t know who to trust, who to admire, like or for that part dislike. I developed strong negative feelings towards his alcoholic mother and her disturbing bedside stories, her weaknesses and bitterness that made him feel as an unwanted child, burdened, abandoned and lonely.

I quote: “Disappointment was a series of shadows each pointing to the other.”

As he describes the emptiness he felt after leaving his country, he still does not understand where should he belong and why, I quote: “I suffer an absence, an ever-present absence, like an orphan not entirely certain of what he has missed or gained through his un-chosen loss.”

This was an emotionally charged novel, convincing and gripping, but I still felt I needed to know more about his years after adulthood in Egypt. How he coped with the absence of his parents, and why he was fighting the urge to go back, and face all those childhood fears he was forced to run away from.
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DubaiReader We need a few books for discussion at Paul's, do you think this would be as good as Anatomy of a Disappearance?
I'll remember that discussion for a long time !!

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